Synthetic Turf Council Offers Clarity & Context to Concerns About New Jersey Fields

Atlanta, Ga. — The Synthetic Turf Council, representing the U.S. synthetic turf industry, wants to offer some clarity and context to the concerns raised by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services yesterday.

We offer this information as part of our corporate and community responsibility to not only promote health and safety, but also to act as an industry that relies on science, technology, research, engineering, testing and factual data. These standards have enabled our industry to develop cutting edge products that provide safe, environmentally sound sports and recreation facilities for communities throughout the country, contributing to the conservation of land and natural resources.

Based on the facts, chemical science, and research that is readily available, we believe the synthetic turf fields identified in New Jersey, and similar fields made with nylon fibers, are safe to use and pose no known risk to an individual’s health or the environment.

Here are the facts:
The pigment used to color the nylon fiber contains lead chromate, a component used to extend the yarn color lifespan. Lead chromate is a highly insoluble compound with extremely low bioavailability, which is diluted, extruded with resins and microencapsulated within the nylon fiber. In fact, OSHA requires no protective measures when handling the turf fibers.

Extremely low bioavailability means that even if the compound were to be ingested, it is very difficult for the compound to be absorbed within the body. There is no known evidence that this poses any health risk. The City of Newark recently conducted elemental analysis testing using EPA approved protocols on turf fibers from Ironbound Stadium, one of the fields identified in the New Jersey report. A separate independent test, supervised by Dr. Davis Lee, PhD of Chemistry with InnovaNet, was also conducted. Both tests concluded that under EPA approved test conditions, no leaching of heavy metals occurs. In other words – the lead chromate can’t escape the nylon within which it is contained.

In addition, the City of Newark ordered an air monitoring test which was conducted by Weston Solutions at the Ironbound site during removal of the stadium’s nylon surface. The test found no detectable levels of airborne lead or lead chromate. The technical data and summaries of these tests are available to the public and the media.

It’s important to point out that the evaluation by the New Jersey DHSS of the safety of the material content of the synthetic turf in question is being made by using EPA residential soil safety standards. The EPA soil safety standard does not take into consideration the extremely low bioavailability of compounds that are bound and encapsulated in plastics such as synthetic turf. Given the serious nature of the report issued yesterday, it’s critically important to point out the DHSS report itself acknowledges there is “a very low risk of exposure” to the users of the fields in question.

About the Synthetic Turf Council Based in Atlanta, the Synthetic Turf Council was founded in 2003 to serve as an objective resource assisting buyers and end users with the selection, use, and maintenance of synthetic turf systems in sports field, golf, and landscape applications. The organization actively collects reputable studies and research, as well as official statements by governmental agencies and sports organizations, which address the impact of synthetic turf sports fields. STC members produce and install most of the synthetic turf sports fields in North America. Membership includes builders, landscape architects, testing labs, maintenance providers, installation contractors and other specialty service companies.

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